Back in June, a work trip that started in Angers ended in the historical city of Le Mans. After exploring the two neighboring departments, we settled in a city I had wanted to visit for a long time. During those two days in Le Mans, I managed to explore every nook and cranny of this captivating city.

The city is most famous for the sports race 24 Hours of Le Mans. Technically the world’s oldest racing event, it’s the reason why everyone runs to Le Mans every June. In my world though, this was a city of romantic cobblestone streets and stunning architecture. There is an abundance of half-timbered houses that are centuries old. In short, I was in heaven!

We arrived in Le Mans and immediately visited the magnificent cathedral. This Romanesque and Gothic church is renowned for its stained glass collection. The afternoon light pouring in through the windows was a delight to see. I never miss visiting a cathedral in any French city because they’re formidable works of art. This one took an impressive 500 years to complete and is one of the largest cathedrals in France!

cathedral saint julien of le mans

The last stop of our trip, Le Mans grabbed our attention with its beautiful architecture. Right after checking in, we were outside, ready to discover this charming city. One specific quaint street was immortalized by Robert Doisneau. In 1962, he photographed a little girl playing with her teddy bear in front of an antique house. Walking down Rue Saint-Pavin la Cité today, you can spot a big teddy bear in the window as an homage to the iconic photograph!

The old town of Le Mans, Cité Plantagenêt

The most magnificent sight in Le Mans is the old town in its entirety. Known as Cité Plantagenêt, it got its name after Plantagenet, a French royal dynasty. The narrow cobblestone alleys were hiding striking Renaissance buildings and crooked medieval houses. You can get lost in it for a few hours and you’ll always encounter something new. The city center is a genuine treasure trove of architecture!

That afternoon, we went on a river cruise. It was a delightful way to pass the last hour before the sunset. Our captain and guide told us many stories about the city. The serene cruise down the Sarthe river flew by. It was a lovely way to see the city from a different angle, plus it provides the perfect view of the Roman walls. Every summer evening a light show tells the history of Le Mans on those same walls.

woman on a sarthe river cruise in le mans

We ended the day at the O’ Comptoir des Cocottes restaurant. We enjoyed a hearty dinner on a terrace filled with people. June had barely begun but the summer ambiance was already in the air. We watched the sun slowly set over the pretty townhouse. It was delightful and I wished I could have had more sunsets in Le Mans.

I still remember how dreamy those houses covered in flowers and ivy looked. At one point it felt like I had wandered off into the countryside. Empty streets, colorful houses, blooming rose bushes climbing over gorgeous old doors, it was such an idyllic sight.

ivy covered houses in le mans

Unique historical B&B in the city center

Our accommodation for the night was utterly enchanting. Logis Saint-Flaceau is a unique B&B situated in Cité Plantagenêt, the historical old town. You can rent two separate apartments inside a 16th-century half-timbered house. I found it so inspiring and took so many photos that you can expect a separate blog post about it!

My final day in Le Mans lasted only one morning but I took advantage of every minute. I woke up with the sun, grabbed a quick bite, and packed my suitcase. Then I headed out for one last cobblestone adventure! I dragged my suitcase around the old town, uphill and downhill, never minding it one bit.

old town cité plantagenêt le mans

The streets were empty that Friday morning and the half-timbered houses looked even more magical. I loved every corner of the historical city center. The endless array of cute half-timbered houses made for a scenic end to my visit to Le Mans.

Ultimately, it felt like I had barely scratched the surface of what Le Mans has to offer. I wished for more time to marvel at all the half-timbered houses and to peek into more courtyards. I heard of a fascinating event Entre Cours & Jardins where people open their picturesque courtyards to the public. It sounds like a wonderful reason to revisit Le Mans and fall in love with it anew. I guess I’m bound to come back here for a longer stay!

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